I’ve been reading a small diary, found at my aunt’s house as we’ve been cleaning it out. Written by my great aunt, whom I had heard of but knew little about, it was her account of a trip she took in 1923 with her sister, my grandmother. Her name was Myrtle and, suffering her entire life from severe asthma, she left the dusty heat of the north Texas summer for California in hopes of finding a kinder climate.
She was a fine writer, and I was immediately drawn in to her tales of visiting Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Venice Beach at such an interesting time in history. I liked her so much, being privy to her thoughts and struggles, her hopes and dreams. She was a kind, compassionate person, always doing for others and wanting desperately not to be a burden. I so wished her life hadn’t been cut short in her 30’s to a condition that is easily controllable today.
She didn’t have the chance to make a lot of history. She made her mark on her family, of course, but there weren’t a lot of stories handed down, and being so sick, she wasn’t able to do much. But suddenly, I had her words, written in her hand, sitting right in mine two generations and 91 years later, and she became real to me. Her life, though brief, mattered, and made a mark on me, as well.
We may think that we live very ordinary lives that don’t mean much in the scheme of things. We may not do anything big or flashy or important, as far as the world sees us. But the things we do behind the scenes, the way we treat people in our everyday, the words we speak or right down, those things are our legacy.
What will someone be saying about you in 90 years? What imprint will you still be leaving? If you’re like me, you’re praying it’s an intimate portrait that will be gazed upon generations from now, and still be seen as a thing of beauty.
Still making a difference as a life well-lived, just like my Great Aunt Myrtle.